During my years of being flat-broke, I always had one tried and true gift for women: the homemade cookbook:
I first saw this idea waaayyyy back in 1989, after mom used our dinosaur Macintosh to make one for a family reunion:
Although for her, it was not the most frugal idea. You see, before the days of cell phones, email and even the long-distance pricing wars, calling home from California cost an arm and a leg. She tracked down all her family recipes via long-distance phone calls, and the resulting bills were probably enough to take out a second mortgage on the house.
Luckily, by the time I got around to trying this project, I had email, an all-in-one printer/scanner, and most importantly, a key to my mother’s house; therefore, I could sneak in when she was not home and raid her recipe stash. Nothing like a little breaking and entering to put ya in the holiday spirit.
The first time I did this project, it was with the idea of getting all her recipes into one place for myself and my siblings. I gathered the recipes, used the scanner to pirate artwork from various books (what? It’s not like I was going to publish it, or anything), and got to work on the layout:
I also included numerous hints, tricks and tips throughout the book, because after learning that my sister tried to put out a grease fire with a bag of flour, I figured she probably needed to know a few things. I printed it on good paper and had it spiral-bound at a local copy store for about $5. The end result is the right-hand cookbook you see at the top of this post.
Another way I’ve executed the homemade cookbook idea is to buy cute recipe books with blank pages (as seen on the left of the top pic), and hand-write the recipes in myself. I did this when my sister got married because, despite already having our family cookbook, she needed some easy, quick, already test-driven recipes for a working girl, and these would probably make my mom cringe. No such thing as 30 Minute meals when we were growing up in MY mom’s house…:
Next year, I will probably utilize my discovery of the Living Cookbook software to do a Version 2.0 of our family cookbook. I really like the idea of nice, pretty color photos, instead of pirated clip-art.
Overall, this is a very cheap project. It just takes a little time, but your family will use it for years to come.
Just don’t go breaking and entering…that would be bad.
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